These are the grades for the 49ers’ second win of the season – 22-21 win over the LA Rams.
QUARTERBACK: B+. Colin Kaepernick dinked and dunked all game and averaged just 6.7 yards per pass. He also dropped his eyes while facing pressure and ran into four sacks. But, all credit to him for bringing the team back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and winning the game. Sure, everyone in the world other than the Rams knew he would run on third-and-10 from the 13-yard line and during the two-point conversion attempt at the end. When Kaepernick has to make a play, he trusts his legs, not his arm. Today, his legs came through. And now, he can say he ended his career on a high note if he retires in a couple weeks as he should.
RUNNING BACKS: F. Carlos Hyde was awful – he gained just 24 yards on 12 carries after gaining 14 yards on his first carry. He also fumbled twice and left the game with a knee injury. The first thing the 49ers’ new general manager, whoever he is, should do this offseason is trade Hyde while he still has value — if he still has value. The 2018 draft will be full of talented running backs who can replace him.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B+. Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater both played well and gained 125 receiving yards combined. They’re quality receivers the Niners should keep for next season.
TIGHT ENDS: C. Garrett Celek was just OK, catching four passes for 39 yards. He’s a third-stringer.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+. Andrew Tiller struggled and Zane Beadles committed a moronic taunting penalty after the 2-point conversion which gave the Rams’ good field position and almost allowed them to come back and win. But, overall this unit was good. Trent Brown played left tackle for the first time this season, and was excellent. He is the best player on the 49ers, someone the team can build around. The Niners should move him to left tackle full time and trade Joe Staley during the offseason – that’s the second thing the new 49ers’ general manager should do.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Absolutely shut down Todd Gurley, a truly pitiful running back, and harassed Jared Goff in the pocket most of the game. Both DeForest Buckner and Chris Jones are keepers.
LINEBACKERS: A. Gerald Hodges played well one week after Chip Kelly suspended him for breaking a team rule. Good for Kelly. More on him below.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A. Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson intercepted Jared Goff to seal the victory. Robinson is a keeper.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Phil Dawson struggled the past couple weeks, but was perfect today.
COACHES: C+. Sure, the 49ers’ offense averaged just 4.5 yards per play – a full yard per play worse than the league average. But, all credit to Chip Kelly for going for two at the end of the game instead of playing for overtime. Kelly had been so conservative all season, especially in the second half, which was one reason the Niners lost 13 games in a row. Good to see him coach aggressively for a change.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays 49ers fans.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.